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Executive Function in Deaf Native Signing Children

Kotowicz, Justyna, Woll, Bencie & Herman, R. ORCID: 0000-0001-5732-9999 (2023). Executive Function in Deaf Native Signing Children. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 28(3), pp. 255-266. doi: 10.1093/deafed/enad011


The aim of this study is twofold: To examine if deafness is invariably associated with deficits in executive function (EF) and to investigate the relationship between sign language proficiency and EF in deaf children of deaf parents with early exposure to a sign language. It is also the first study of EF in children acquiring Polish Sign Language. Even though the mothers of the deaf children (N = 20) had lower levels of education compared with the mothers of a hearing control group, the children performed similarly to their hearing peers (N = 20) on a variety of EF task-based assessments. Only in the Go/No-go task were weaker inhibition skills observed in younger deaf children (6-9 years) compared with hearing peers, and this difference was not seen in older children (10-12 years). Hence, deafness does not necessarily impair EF; however, attentional and inhibition abilities may be acquired via a different route in deaf children. Sign language receptive skills predicted EF in deaf children. In conclusion, we highlight the importance of deaf parenting building the scaffolding for EF in deaf children.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © Crown copyright 2023. This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education following peer review. The version of record Justyna Kotowicz and others, Executive Function in Deaf Native Signing Children, The Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 2023 is available online at: This article contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0 (
Publisher Keywords: executive functioning, sign language, deaf
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
P Language and Literature
R Medicine > RF Otorhinolaryngology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Language & Communication Science
SWORD Depositor:
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